my chinese tuk tuk driver never showed up this morning to take me to the airport at 8AM. i went back to the guesthouse and asked how much it'd cost for someone to take me. "US$3," someone said. "that's too much, i was thinking US$1," i replied. he laughed. "it's only 6km away," i said. "no, very far, 8-10km," he said. "walk, walk," his friend added. so i did, got myself a moto driver who would take me for US$2.

at the airport, the woman in front of me had to take out the scissors she had in her bag, even though i had scissors as well, not to mention a few empty shell casing from my stint at the phnom pehn firing range. the plane was scheduled to leave at 10AM, but we left at 9:15AM. we arrived at pakse at 10AM, picked up a few more passengers, before continuing to ventiane, the laotian capital.

everyone else seemed to be on a package tour, they had somebody at the airport picking them up. no such luck for me. arriving in a new country, not to mention a new town, is usually the most nerve-wrecking. there were no moto drivers to be found nor shuttlebuses, but instead there was a line of taxi drivers, willing to take me into town for US$6, more than what i wanted to pay. i figured i'd just walk out of the airport and maybe run into a tuk tuk or a motodriver. all this while carrying all my bags. but before i got the chance, i was intercepted by a taxi driver, who asked me how much i was willing to pay (US$3) and had a friend who didn't speak any english take me into town. i had no idea where i was during the whole ride, and even if i wanted to i couldn't read any of the street signs. apparently he was instructed to take me to the bus station, but i got him to drop me off on the a street with a lot of guesthouses. i saw 3 guesthouses and finally picked one that had a nice balcony view and AC and hot water but no TV.

i arrived in laos just in time for their new year. families get in the back of pickup trucks and drive around splashing people with buckets of water. likewise, people on the street splash anyone driving on the road. anything from water balloons, to squirt guns, to garden hose, to pails of water. for the most part i stayed dry, but i did catch the attention of two drag queens dancing outside a bar, and while one of the girls grabbed me and kissed me on the cheek, her friend poured a bucket of water down my pants. so this was my introduction to laos.

laos airline

truck versus truck

black stupa (note: drag queens)

SUV getting splashed

motogirls getting splashed

boys getting splashed

cop breaking up party